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London Climathon competition hails air quality innovation

A prototype of air-quality website, Pollupla
A prototype of air-quality website, Pollupla • Photograph: Pollupla

Efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital received a boost late last week, as two new concepts emerged as winners of the London Climathon.

Airbike and Pollupla were declared the winners of the London branch of the competition, which was organised by Climate-KIC and partner organisations, The Greater London Authority, The Liebreich Foundation and Energy Unlocked, which presented harmful air quality, waste, and peaking energy demand as challenges the teams had to identify economically viable ways of combatting.

Airbike won thanks to a sensor system that attaches to bicycles and gathers air quality data, providing a real-time picture of the city’s air quality. Pollupla, created by AMEE and IBM, offers an online platform that allows individuals to rate their potential property purchases based on the local area’s pollution. The team says it uses a combination of data from house-hunting website Zoopla and London Air.

The Pollupla team told BusinessGreen that in creating their idea, they thought “about the things that would motivate people to improve air quality in their area”. By allowing people to eliminate houses based on air quality, they stressed their development would motivate businesses and homeowners to take the onus of tackling air pollution, rather than relying on the government. The product remains in a prototype stage, but the team says they hope to make it into a fully-fledged website.

The competition was one of many held around the world, with other branches of the event held in European cities Copenhagen, Denmark and Frankfurt, Germany, but also in Washington D.C., USA, Wellington, New Zealand, and Delhi, India. A spokesperson from organisers Climate-KIC told BusinessGreen that each individual competition chose two winners, which will now be coached and mentored by the organisation, before they are invited to present their ideas at December’s COP21 Summit in Paris.

Ebrahim Mohamed, Climate-KIC’s director of education, said he hoped the competition would help drive clean tech innovation. “Climate change poses a significant threat to Londoner’s way of life and it is important to stimulate the innovation and foresight needed to move the economy in a new direction,” he added in a statement.

A number of clean tech start-ups, including Energy Unlocked, Tempus Energuy, Open TRV, and Carboncoin, will also provide prizes and business support to the winning teams. Meanwhile, international NGO The Climate Group and the Department for Energy and Climate Change are also offering ongoing communications support to help support the development of the new concepts.

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